Saturday, August 24, 2013

Teamsters, tens of thousands, march on Washington today

Teamster leaders practicing for today's March on Washington.
Teamsters thronged the National Mall today during the March on Washington, demanding good jobs along with tens of thousands of people also striving for a better America. Our Teamster brothers and sisters came from all corners of the country: From Florida and California, from Cleveland and St. Louis and New York City. Wearing black Teamsters shirts, they are walking proudly behind the blue Teamsters Human Rights Commission banner.

Edward Carter, business agent for Teamster Local 665 in California, summed up what the March on Washington was all about:
It's a march for jobs -- for everybody. 
Fifty years ago, Teamsters also flocked to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In fact, the march wouldn't have happened had it not been for organized labor. A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, organized the march, and most of the men and women responsible for its success came from the House of Labor.

As Dissent Magazine recently noted,
In 1963 progressive unionists of all races routinely intertwined the goals of civil rights and economic justice. That’s why the official slogan of the day was “For Jobs and Freedom.” Tens of thousands of union members, mostly from the North, crowded together along the Reflecting Pool with civil rights activists who were taking a break from the dangerous work of liberating the South.
Teamsters headed for the March on
Washington 50 years ago. 
Said Teamsters International Vice President Al Mixon, a leader of today's Teamsters' contingent of marchers:
I look at how far we've come and how far we have to go. It was about jobs then, it's about jobs now.
Roy Gillespie, a marcher, Human Rights Commission representative and member of Teamsters Local 600, agreed that we need to keep marching:
I am truly appreciative and thankful for the work done in 1963. I hope we continue fighting for the working men and women of this country to obtain the American Dream.
The Guardian downplays the demand for good jobs, as is typical of the mainstream media, but at least it's covering today's march:
There is already a huge turnout at the National Mall, with crowds lining the banks of the reflective pool. It is an evocative sight; redolent of the grainy footage of the March on Washington, except in bright colour rather than black and white... 
Estimating the size of the crowds is never easy - the debate over the numbers who attended in the 1963 march still rages today. But I would say there are easily thousands, and possibly tens of thousands of people here. And they've come from across America. I've spoken to people who have traveled from as far away as Mississippi, Chicago, Florida and Seattle.  
I think the scale of turnout is significant. The gathering feels less like a formal commemoration, and more like a protest. Time and again, people told me they believed America was still a racist country, only less overtly so. People are carrying placards about voter rights, equal education and, of course, the death of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Both of the 17-year-old's parents -- Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton -- are here.
Mixon and Crump
Mixon and Gillespie met with Ben Crump, Trayvon Martin's family lawyer, last night at a pre-march meeting in Washington.

Today's March on Washington is not only a statement about the need for good jobs, but an opportunity for people who fight for economic justice to get together and strengthen their bonds.

As Renee Taylor, a member of Teamsters Local 237 in New York, said:
I get a chance to be with my brothers and sisters to promote equality...There's a lot of people who don't have a job. We fight for them. 
March on, brothers and sisters.